JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – Sweetface Shelton, a well-loved and valued therapy dog in the Alaska National Guard, has received the Alaska Commendation Medal.
Affectionately known as “Nyx,” the brindle-furred American Mastiff implements therapeutic aid for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program and Warrior and Family Services. Nyx and her owner, Ashley, have devoted over three years to providing emotional support to all Guard members, from a victim of sexual assault testifying in court to personnel handling everyday stressors.
Octavia Thompson, the state family program director, says she witnesses the benefits of having Nyx available for service members experiencing hardship, stress or just needing a comforting moment every time Nyx is in the office.
“Without a doubt, her calm and comforting nature has had positive impact on our program,” Thompson said. “We know that sometimes we have to discuss things that are uncomfortable or very personal, but as soon as people see her, they feel as if a friend is there.”
Thompson said Nyx provides unconditional love without judgment, something that can make all the difference.
“I have seen her on multiple occasions just sit next to someone who has had a bad day, lean against their legs to let them know they are not alone,” Thompson said. “I, too, have experienced her support on a rough day where she has come to sit next to me, put her paw on my leg and look to me as if to say, ‘I am here with you.’”
Throughout her years serving in the Guard, Nyx has maintained constant readiness to help her comrades. A stabilizing and caring presence, she empowers service members and directly contributes to a culture of seeking and receiving help when needed.
Nyx was awarded the Alaska Commendation Medal March 18. April is Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness month.